|Publication number||US5170362 A|
|Application number||US 07/641,218|
|Publication date||8 Dec 1992|
|Filing date||15 Jan 1991|
|Priority date||15 Jan 1991|
|Publication number||07641218, 641218, US 5170362 A, US 5170362A, US-A-5170362, US5170362 A, US5170362A|
|Inventors||Howard L. Greenberg, Ensor Rodriguez|
|Original Assignee||Atlantic Richfield Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Referenced by (82), Classifications (12), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to a redundant interactive testing system for individuals; and more particularly to the testing of multiple subjects at remote sites by comparison of their immediate test results to a centrally stored, base line generated by the results from previously taken tests thereby ascertaining whether or not the subject is capable of performing a particular task.
The effects of alcohol, drugs (both ethical and illegal), fatigue, stress, emotional disturbance and the like have long been known to degrade both the physical and mental performance of human beings.
Such degradation of performance may, in certain critical tasks, result in substantial loss of life or property. For example, impaired performance of a ship captain may result in improper response to unusual weather conditions leading to the sinking of the ship, total destruction of the vessel, its cargo and possible long term environmental catastrophe.
Impaired functional capabilities of operators of other types of vehicles can also lead to similar results, for example, pilots, bus or truck drivers carrying cargo or passengers. Individuals operating complex or sensitive equipment may likewise make decisions or take actions which could result in the occurrence of loss of property and human life.
Employers have a two-fold problem. First, they must not hire individuals who place themselves and others at risk due to the effects of substance abuse on their work performance. Second, the employer has a moral and legal responsibility to their shareholders and society at large to monitor their current employees for decreased performance.
Many attempts have been directed to intrusive and non-intrusive testing of individuals to ascertain whether or not their bodies contain performance degrading substances. The testing of individuals in this manner has raised many legal, ethical and moral issues and in many instances is inadequate.
Particularly, such testing will not disclose performance degradation due to emotional disturbance, stress, debilitation as a result of age or disease or the like.
Accuracy and legal and employee morale problems with drug testing have discouraged many employers from implementing widespread drug testing programs. Existing drug tests detect not the drug itself, but the by-products called metabolites that are left behind after the drug has been metabolized by the body. Since these by-products linger in the body for weeks, it is entirely possible and even likely that a subject who fails a drug test is totally sober and fit for work.
Most current non-intrusive drug tests require taking a sample of the employee's urine, a bodily function that most people consider intensely private. The problem is compounded by the growing tendency of employers to observe the employee in the act of urination to prevent cheating. It would be most useful to evaluate an employee's performance capabilities without embarrassing invasive testing methods.
NASA developed the first non-intrusive testing system called "Critical Tracking Task" (CTT), in the 1960's for astronauts and test pilots. Because non-intrusive performance testing detects impairment from any source including illness, emotional problems, or staying up all night with a sick child, it is vastly superior to drug testing for detecting those who pose a safety risk in critical fields such as transportation.
Moreover, because CTT looks only at the test subject's fitness for duty and not off-duty conduct, and does not involve any intrusive or embarrassing procedures, CTT eliminates the employee morale backlash and lawsuits caused by random drug tests.
Other attempts have been made to test individuals on a non-intrusive basis or without the necessity of testing breath or urine samples. For example, the U.S. Pat. No. 3,901,215 to Erwin Roy John entitled, "Method of Testing the Senses and Cognition of Subjects," discloses a system which produces an electroencephalograph on a subject in response to predetermined stimuli where response is compared to the subject's evoked response at a base line condition to ascertain differences between the two. Any differences between past and present performance are automatically statistically analyzed by a computer to ascertain the significance thereof. Obviously, such apparatus as described by the John patent requires complex sensors and highly trained testing personnel to provide the stimuli to the subject and record the results emanating from the subject's brain, establishing both the base line and the subject's response to the stimuli.
Other conventional performance testing such as apparatus (both automotive vehicle and aircraft) have been developed to test the capability of an operator or subject to perform pre-selected critical tasks in advance of assuming work positions to carry out such tasks. Simulators are typically programed so that the operator or subject performs tasks (driving/flying) which are normally performed in the day-to-day work of that individual. The generated test results are compared against proper objective responses anticipated of subjects performing in similar circumstances.
Although such simulators are generally effective, they do not compare the subject's present capabilities of performance against that same subject's previously established performance response capabilities. Furthermore, simulators, even the most simple, are relatively expensive and the use of them exclusively for testing instead of training requires a substantial amount of time.
Subjects engaged in high stress, repetitive work, such as airline pilots making repeated take-offs and landings, chemical plant operators processing toxic materials, nuclear power plant technicians maintaining and cleaning power plant facilities, and surgeons performing countless operations in a limited time period would benefit from immediate feedback on their current performance level. Their employers would not only increase production efficiency but would also increase the level of on the job safety for their employees and the public at large.
The present invention provides a system for interactively evaluating the capabilities of a subject for performing a task at a remote test site where the subject uses a computer to take a performance evaluation test. The subject's current level of performance produces data from the current test which is sent to an offtesting node site for comparison with the subject's previous level of performance on the same tests. Besides data storage capability the node site may have an on site human evaluator to review, analyze and compare the subject's current level of performance with the subject's previous level of performance.
A hub site connected to the node site serves as the central data storage and evaluation facility for the subject's current level of performance. In the event of an overall system outage the node site redundantly replaces the hub site.
This invention produces a performance evaluation system that is implemented in a controlled consistent manner using existing technology having reliable characteristics. More particularly, the invention provides a redundant system for interactively evaluating the performance capabilities of known subjects by measuring their response to a series of randomly generated tests and then comparing the test results using an algorithm which statistically passes individuals relative to their predetermined performance level. Multiple failures of the randomly generated tests raise the presumption that the subject's performance is impaired at the time the test is performed. Trained evaluators make the final determination of the subject's fitness to work.
A complete understanding of the present invention and the above advantages may be gained from a consideration of the following description of the preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of the redundant system for interactively evaluating a subject's current performance level;
FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of one test site in the system for interactively evaluating a subject's current performance level;
FIG. 3 is a flow chart of the performance evaluation method as implemented by the system;
FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of the data base for one subject evaluated by the system; and
FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of the personal computer monitor screen presenting the spatial and visual attention tests used by the performance evaluation method as presented by the system.
The invention, a redundant system for evaluating the performance capabilities of subjects by interactive testing, compares the subjects' current performance test results with stored data representing the subjects' previous performance results. The subjects interactively respond to a multi-function performance test presented to them on a personal computer. The subject's test results are sent through telecommunications lines to offsite data storage and evaluation facilities. A determination of the subject's performance capability is made by comparison of the current test results to that subject's stored historical test results. A decision is made at the offtest site based on this comparison as to whether that subject can perform his assigned duties effectively.
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of the redundant system for interactively evaluating a subject's current performance level. The system 10 is redundant because evaluation and data storage occurs at potentially two levels. Individual test sites 16 contain multiple test stations located at the physical site location of the subjects under evaluation.
These test sites include, but are not limited to trailer test sites 16 parked at the site, or a ship test site 16' or an aircraft test site 16". Node sites 14 are central data collection facilities which are electronically connected to the multiple test sites 16. Node sites 14 are grouped together based on, for example, geographic considerations and may as in this example receive data from two sites 16 in the same area. The node sites 14' in an alternative embodiment are designated according to the operating company or division of a larger entity like a corporation. Node sites 14 include a computer, node data bases, data base management and performance evaluating personnel capable of maintaining the data of the node data base. If evaluating personnel such as Medical Review Officers (MRO) are not on staff at the test sites 16 then such evaluators at the node site evaluate the personnel subject's current test results compared to their base line. Communications between the individual test sites and the node sites are relatively inexpensive and would be comprised of a modem or microwave transmission.
A second level of review in the system is the system hub 12 which interconnects various node sites as well as individual test sites. The hub 12 comprises a computer and communications capabilities as well as central data base management and additional evaluating personnel. Failure of the system 10 due to a power outage in such a redundant system will not negatively impact the interconnection between the node sites 14 and test sites 16.
FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of one test site exemplary in the system 10 for interactively evaluating a subject's current performance level. The test site 16 includes at least one test station 21 which is networked into a test station area 18. Each test station contains monitor 22 with view screen 24 and keyboard or any other data input device 23. Subject 17 seated before monitor 22 is presented with tests 52 which appear on the view screen 24. In response to the tests 52, subject 17 depresses keys on the keyboard 23. Performance data generated by subject 17 responses on the keyboard 23 is transmitted over cable 27 and networked through the LAN 20 to a private consultation room 26.
In FIG. 2, twelve test stations 21 are available to simultaneously assess the performance capabilities of twelve subjects 17, however, as many as fifteen test stations are feasible. The subjects 17 log-on the test stations 21 and perform the test. The test results are then compared to their prior stored performance data or base line which may be retrieved from the node sites. Each subject's responses to the test stimuli are sent to node sites through inexpensive communications levels such as modem 32 and telephone line 34 via test station output lines 50.
Security is critical in the evaluation of the subject's 17 performance. The private consultation room 26 contains a video transceiver 38 that incorporates a general surveillance camera 42 trained upon the subjects. In addition, a physical security system 44 with alarm 46 connected to doors, electrical, telephone and fire 48 and a private interview camera 36 are also connected to the transceiver 38. The video transceiver 38 is connected to the node site (not shown here) relaying security sensitive information through telephone line 34'. In the event of a subject's failure of several test 52 sequences an additional test station 30 or a breath analyzer 28 may be used in the private consultation room 26 to secure physical evidence of the subject's 17 condition. This security system 44 is not critical for the interactive test system, but incorporates an alternative approach to employee assessment.
FIG. 3 is a flow chart of a performance evaluation method 54 as used by the system 10. This method would be best implemented by software programming. The subject 17 (not shown here) first logs in (step 56) and establishes through his user identification number (step 58) his identity that is verified (step 60) by the node site to assure that he exists within the system 10. The system determines if the subject 17 has used the system 54 within the past twenty-three hours (step 62). The node site secures the subject s information data (step 64) stored at the hub or at the node site. The subject 17 (step 66) takes the test 54 and his performance results are calculated (step 68) and transmitted to the data base administration (step 70) where the current test performance results are compared to the subject's 17 historical data base (step 72). If the subject fails, the test is retaken a second time. If the subject 17 passes the test the second time (step 74) he is notified of the pass (step 78) and the passing results are communicated to security and the audit sections of the node site. The subject's supervisor is notified of the passing results (step 84) and the subject's 17 baseline is recalculated, by including the current test results. The subject's baseline is updated (step 88) and the performance evaluation method 54 is complete (step 90).
In FIG. 3 if the subject fails the test (step 66) a second time the subject 17 is notified of the failure (step 80). The subject 17 may be interviewed (step 92) in the private consultation room 26 (not shown here).
As a result of the second failure, the subject's database is updated (step 94) by the node site or hub site medical review officer (MRO). The MRO at the node site or hub, as well as the data base administrator (DBA) are notified of the two failures (step 96). MRO secures the subject's data (step 98) and interviews the subject (step 100). The MRO at the node site or the hub has the option to override the subject's repeated failure of the tests. As shown, (step 102) the MRO can reinstate the subject to their performance task after analysis of the data generated. If the MRO does not override the subject's failure of the tests then the subject is temporarily assigned to a non-safety sensitive job or sent home (step 104). If the MRO does override the test results the failure data is sent to the data base (step 106) and a message is sent to the supervisor (step 108) and the subject is sent to his appointed task step (110).
FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of the data base for one subject evaluated by the system 10. Daily test data 112, 114 and 116 taken over a period of three days produces the subject's original test data base 72. This updated base line 88 is combined with the subject's personal information 64. The subject's test data base line is added to with each days results and such results are accumulated until a predetermined number of test results is included. Thereafter only the immediate past test results for a predetermined number of tests is retained, for example, the last twenty. Therefore, the subject's test data base is continuously updated. The subject's personal information is not maintained at the test site for security reasons and to prevent tampering with the subject's data base.
FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of the monitor screen 24 presenting the spatial, visual and attention tests used by the performance evaluation method 54. The test 52 presented to the subject 17 (not shown here) can be the type as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 07/465,271 entitled, "Apparatus and Method Determining the Ability of an Individual to Perform a Task". The test 52 described in the application and shown by example in FIG. 5 performs three distinct testing operations. First, a visual test 118 requires the test subject 17 to evaluate a manikin 124 holding objects 126, 126' in a manikin's hands as compared with an object 130 in box 128. An attention test 120 is also incorporated in screen 24. This task is very important because it demonstrates primarily the subject's inability to appreciate whether an arrow 120 is pointing to the visual test 118 or a verbal test 122.
The verbal test 122, shown in FIG. 5 presents two letters 132, 134 to the subject where the subject 17 must assess if letters 132, 134 are the same or different. The keyboard of the interactive computer is so designated to facilitate the subject's response by depressing the preselected keys. The arrow of the attention test 120 randomly switches between the verbal 122 and the visual 118 tests thereby preventing the subject from memorizing sequences of operations and depressing a memorized sequence of keys.
While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications can be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects and therefore the appended claims are intended to cover all such changes and modifications as followed in the true spirit and scope of the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||700/90, 600/558, 434/323|
|International Classification||G06F19/00, G09B7/04|
|Cooperative Classification||G09B7/04, G06F19/322, G06F19/363, G06F19/3418|
|European Classification||G06F19/36A, G06F19/34C, G09B7/04|
|11 Mar 1991||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, 515 SOUTH FLOWER ST.,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNORS:GREENBERG, HOWARD L.;RODRIGUEZ, ENSOR;REEL/FRAME:005659/0110
Effective date: 19910304
|31 Aug 1992||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: PACT CORPORATION, THE, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, A CORP. OF DE;REEL/FRAME:006196/0406
Effective date: 19920811
|16 Jul 1996||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|8 Dec 1996||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|18 Feb 1997||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 19961211